Managing your workload

If you manage your own business and have decided to keep it running during treatment, you’ll need to be realistic about how much you can do. It’s helpful to find out about potential sources of support. Many organisations such as your local authority, Citizens Advice or local business networks can give you advice.

It’s also important to understand how treatment may affect you. This will help you think about the things you may need to reorganise at work. Make sure you take on a manageable workload and that you set realistic deadlines. Prioritise activities and see if you can delegate some tasks to employees, friends and family who may want to help, or even people in the same profession.

If it is possible, you could try to contract people to do some of the work or cover for you when you are unwell.

If friends have offered to help you, it’s important that you trust they’ll have the skills and time to do the work. Make sure they don’t take on more than they can manage.

Keeping your business running

If you’ve decided to keep the business running – or if you just want to see how it goes – it’s important to be realistic about what you can do.

It will help to get as much information as you can about your cancer and the possible effects its treatment may have on you. You’ll also need to be realistic about your business demands and your finances.

You can get a lot of advice and information for free or at a low cost from the following places:

  • your local authority (council)
  • your local Jobcentre
  • disability support organisations
  • your local Law Centre
  • your local Citizens Advice
  • a financial adviser or your bank
  • your chamber of commerce or other local business networks
  • your trade union or professional association, if you belong to one
  • the government and services website at (the government’s online resource for businesses).

If you have professional advisers, like an accountant or a lawyer, this is a good time to ask for their guidance.

Managing the workload

  • Depending on your line of work, you could take steps to make sure the essential tasks get done, while giving yourself a chance to rest and recover. Set priorities – decide what absolutely must get done and what can be left until later.
  • Be realistic about deadlines. Allow yourself extra time in case you don’t feel well or something unexpected comes up.
  • Schedule in time for breaks and activities that help you to relax or feel better.
  • Think about different ways of getting the job done. Can you work from home instead of travelling to a customer?
  • Which tasks need your unique skills and experience, and can’t be done by anyone else? Prioritise these.
  • Which tasks do you least enjoy? These are likely to take more of your energy, so finding a way to delegate them might help.
  • Ask yourself who else can do the work. If you don’t have employees, you can still have a team. Can you afford to hire a virtual secretary or bookkeeper who works from their own premises? Could an answering service screen your calls and emails? Can you use a sub-contractor for some parts of a project? Would it help to have someone else manage your website for a while? If you ship goods, can a fulfilment house handle this temporarily? Which tasks have to be done every day at a regular time? Can someone cover the days you’re not available or feel unwell?
  • Can you group tasks according to the skills needed to complete them, for example, sorting post, filing, answering the phone or driving? Then when someone offers to help you’ll be ready to describe the sorts of things that need doing.
  • Are there jobs around the house that someone could help with, so that you can concentrate on work?
  • Do you have friends in the same trade or profession who could pick up some of your work for a while?

Other people in the business, or your family, may really want to help. It can help to be open and honest about what’s really needed. Ask yourself if they know what’s involved in any work they are offering to do and whether they have the skills and time to help. Try not to let them take on more than is fair or more than they can handle.

Make sure they can update you regularly, ask questions along the way or change their minds if it turns out to be too much.

Back to If you're self-employed

Self-employment and cancer

If you’re self-employed you may worry about work and money during your cancer treatment. Support is available to help you cope financially and emotionally.

Working during treatment

Deciding whether to carry on working during treatment is a difficult decision. It depends on individual circumstances.

Making treatment decisions

When you’re self-employed, you may have particular questions about treatment decisions and how they could impact on your work.

Managing your finances

If you’re self-employed and have had to reduce your work activity, you may worry about your professional and personal finances. Support is available to help you cope with financial issues.